Thanksgiving is a special time of year when no one should be alone if it can be helped. It’s a time to give thanks and spend quality time with family and friends.
Unfortunately, the reality for many service members is that they’re stationed thousands of miles away, can’t afford the plane ticket home, or are in the middle of training and won’t be able to spend Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones.
Thankfully, there are a lot of really great programs that can help connect your family to those service members to provide them with a little piece of home.
It’s an experience that will give Thanksgiving a new meaning especially if you have children. Their experience will be a story they will tell over and over again.
Most military bases have official Adopt a Service Member programs to connect service members with local families to enjoy a home-cooked meal and the company of a family for the holidays.
If you’re interested in participating, you may need to make a few phone calls, but the time spent will be worth it. These programs are known by many names such as “Operation Home Cooking,” “Adopt an Airman,” “Host a Marine,” “Adopt a Soldier,” etc.
The easiest way to adopt a solider is to reach out the nearest military installation’s MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) office to inquiry about their specific holiday programs.
Another option is to check with the nearest Armed Services YMCA or USO office. Lastly, googling adopt a service member, soldier, marine etc + city will often yield a local holiday program as well.
If a program is not yet established in your area, you can reach out to service members on your own through your contacts or start your own program.
Another seat at the table is no big deal for most families. You may be a bit nervous about hosting troops you don’t know but that feeling will dissipate quickly and it will be an experience that your family and the service person you host will remember forever.